The 500px ipad app went live over the week-end. I didn't have eager expectation for it, mostly because I find the browsing experience on 500px via Safari mostly fine, but still, I use my ipad on a frequent basis, and it's free, so why not take the plunge?
The app is quick and easy to download and set-up, as you'd expect. More importantly, it looks super-sleek, and while that is also to be expected considering the attention to detail and ergonomy that the 500px team has shown so far, it's still quite an experience once you're in there.
Browsing through photos in the different sections (Editor's Choice, Popular, Upcoming, Fresh and Your Photos) is smooth, display is high quality and makes the most of the ipad screen size. There's no visual clutter when browsing photos, and you need to tap on the photo to get the menu/options to pop up, essentially to like, dislike and/or comment on photos.
I found it surprisingly easy and comfortable to do my commenting on the ipad, and I suspect I'll be doing that from now on more often than on the PC. The fluidity in switching from one picture to the next is really great. The only constraint is that as the ipad relies on wifi for data, the pictures sometimes take a while to load, but that's not 500px's fault (and is similarly experienced through Safari or other browsing apps like FlickrStackr.) My only gripe about the browing experience is that the categories are nowhere to be found on the app (unless I completely missed that, which is a remote possibility I suppose...) I use categories a lot when I'm browsing on the PC, to check out the most recent concert shots or travel shots (two categories I particularly enjoy checking out). I couldn't find any way to do that on the app.
Taking a broader view, if the app enables quasi-stellar browsing, it does nothing else. It's really centered on the photostreams and only the photostreams, and that's just a part of the 500px experience as far as I'm concerned. Portfolios and blogs are forgotten, and also forget about uploading photos from your ipad to your 500px stream. I haven't felt the urge to do that since I joined, but I could certainly see myself doing it.
I don't want to read too much into the lack of features - this is after all a first version, it can still evolve - but I am wondering if the 500px team really sees the social experience around photography as something they want. It's certainly something I want. I can't help but notice though that not only are the social features on the website extremely crude, the total absence of them on the app raises my concern in that area a little.
What do you think? What's your experience of the app been?